Sunday Morning with Pawpaw

My granddaughter Abigail spent the night last night.  Her Mom and Dad attended a wedding in Athens, GA and thought this would be a good opportunity to see how Abigail would do, not to mention how my daughter would do, away from her parents for a night.

My wife spends one day a week with Abigail, so there is not problem with familiarity.  She knows her “Nana” and gets a big smile on her face as Nana comes closer.    She likes to be held so that she can see what is going on and she follows Nana around the room with her eyes.

On Sunday morning, after she ate some breakfast, we had some time together.  We played on the floor for a while with her toys. I brought out my GoPro camera because I know I will want to relive this day again sometime in the future.  We took a break and sat on the couch and played with the GoPro.  As you can see in this video, at 5 ½ months old she is exploring the world through touch and taste.

Remember my Grandparents

This weekend my Grandmothers have been in my thoughts.  I can’t help thinking this is because my granddaughter will be spending the night with us. Thinking about how I want her to remember me, has prompted me to remember my relationship with my own grandparents.

I grew up living in the same town and frequently visiting my paternal grandparents. Granddaddy and Grandma Williams both lived into their 90’s.  I was an adult when they passed away.  Grandma Williams was archetypal dominant matriarch and an excellent cook. I credit her for inspiring me to cook.  It was through her that I first realized cooking for your family was a way of showing your love for them.

One of my favorite dishes that she made was potato salad.  I was very sad when she died, and I realized I would never taste her potato salad again.  Then on a visit to Biloxi we ate dinner at a friend’s house, and she severed Grandma Williams potato salad. I asked her if she could give me the recipe and she said she could, but it was from the back of a jar of Hellmann’s mayonnaise. In the age of Google, I was able to find Grandma Williams Potato Salad Recipe. Oh, happy days!

When Grandma Williams died, I inherited the bowl she always served potato salad in.  I still use it whenever I make her potato salad.  It brings back fond memories.

As I begin being a Grandparent, I want my grandchildren to always remember me as an engaging and playful grandfather who loved them very much.  Since I love to cook, I’m certain that one of the ways I will show my love, is by cooking for them.

Meat-less Friday

One of the advantages of the meat-less Fridays of Lent is that it gives you opportunities to eat foods that you don’t normally eat.  Today for lunch I had an egg salad sandwich.  I cannot eat this meal without Pringles potato chips.  This combination, egg salad sandwich and Pringles, goes back to my childhood when I would visit my maternal grandmother’s house in Orlando. Grandma Callanan like egg salad sandwiches and she was an early fan of Pringles potato chips.  While visiting her house we would often have this for lunch. To this day, I never eat an egg salad sandwich without Pringles. Another potato chip would not be the same.

Bellingrath Gardens

Bellingrath Gardens.

I took the family to Bellingrath Gardens this weekend.  Visiting the gardens was a bucket list item for me. I grew up in Pensacola and remember hearing about the gardens and the annual azalea bloom. When I lived in Mobile, I never took the time to visit.

It was not the ideal day to visit the gardens, but having made the trip, we still went.  Recent rains have beat down some of the azaleas.  It is overcast and a little windy today.  I was a little cold as we walked through the gardens, but I was not uncomfortable.  We warmed up by touring the conservatory and the home.  The azaleas were probably at their peak last weekend, but the gardens were still colorful.

The house was impressive. The architect, George B Rogers did a wonderful job incorporating the unique features of the site to build a comfortable house for its time.  The house was before air conditioning and located next to a river, where biting insect would need to be considered.

The house is furnished as a museum and not as the Bellingraths’ would have lived in it.  Bessie enjoyed collecting porcelain and  the house was decorate with some very beautiful pieces.  The dining room tables were all set as if expecting guest  The main dining room was impressive and decorated with mirrors, gold, and red curtains.

The gardens began in 1927 when, after a trip to Europe, Walter and Bessie Bellingrath hired architect George B Rogers to convert Walter’s fishing camp into a country estate.  In 1935 the couple built a 10,500 square foot home on the property.  It is all spectacular to see.

Bessie Bellingrath died in 1943, 12 year before her husband.  Walter created a trust for the house and gardens “as a fitting and permanent memorial to my wife.”

Walter was a very successful businessman.  In 1903, Walter purchased the Coca-Cola franchise for Mobile, AL for $1,500.  I’m certain that, at the time, that was a large investment. I was intrigued by Walter’s success and purchase a biographical book about him in the gift shop. It should be an interesting read.

I’m happy we made the trip and that I’ve finally been to Bellingrath Gardens.  It is a very nice botanical visit and the staff maintains it beautifully.  I came for the azaleas and was not disappointed, despite the less than perfect weather.  I suspect that all year round the staff keeps the grounds colorful with seasonal flowers. I won’t make a special trip to visit again, but If I’m in the areas and have the time, I will come to see what is in bloom.

My Thoughts and Prayers

I’m still trying to process the mosque shooting in New Zealand, but I came across this article by Andrew Klavin: My thoughts and Prayers.  This is the quote that resonated with me:

“When tragedy or atrocity strikes — as it just did with the mosque shootings in New Zealand — thoughts and prayers are not just an expression of compassion. They are, more importantly and more wisely, an expression of humility and helplessness. They are a way of saying: “There is nothing we can do in the face of this wickedness but we stand in solidarity with the victims and ask God to comfort their families in their sorrow.”

Almost every other reaction is absurd. To suggest you have the solution to the eternal problem of evil in the form of addressing your pet peeve or of blaming and attacking your political opponents is disgraceful. It is to use the bodies of the slain for a soap box. It degrades you and insults the victims.”

It is human nature to look to our civic and political leaders in times of tragedy such as this.  I find it disappointing how shallow in stupid they appear to be when they open their mouths.  Tell me again why do we admire celebrities?

Captain Marvel

I took Albert to see the new Captain Marvel movie today. I was pleasantly surprised. I have seen several reviews on the internet that prepared me for a Girl Power, anti-male, estrogen overdose, but the movie I saw did not leave that impression. I didn’t see any scenes or dialog that triggered a negative response. It was an action filled movie with a lot of special effects. I was pleasantly entertained by the story. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give it a solid 8.

Nota bene: I’m the youngest an only male child in my family. I have three older sisters. My mother and paternal Grandmother were both very headstrong women. I do not feel threatened by anyone, male or female, who makes the most of their God given gifts and talent’s. My world view does not see me competing with others, but only myself. I’m trying to become the best person I can be with my God given talent’s and resources.

Happy Mardi Gras!!

I consider Mardi Gras season a great southern tradition. Being from the Gulf Coast, my wife and I grew up celebrating the season. It is an excuse to get together with friends and family and party. My family continues the tradition here in the Atlanta suburbs by decorating the house during Mardi Gras.

Twice we have attended Mardi Gras in New Orleans and I hope to return in the future with my whole family. It is an amazing party.

My wife and I with family before the 2009 Bacchus Ball in New Orleans

Solar Minimum

A few years ago, I had a discussion with my sisters. They were aghast that I didn’t believe in Global Warming a.k.a. Climate Change. I defended myself by asserting that I had read several books on the subject including “The Skeptical Environmentalist” by Bjorn Lomborg and “The Little Ice Age” by Brian Fagan. When they asked what I thought was causing the environment to warm, if it is indeed warming? I said, “The Sun.”

Two article caught my attention this weekend and I’m pretty sure they’re related. The first was a piece in the LA Times with the headline, “A February to remembrrr in L.A.” The article notes, “For the first time since forecasters began recording data — at least 132 years — the mercury did not reach 70 degrees in downtown Los Angeles for the entire month of February.” As Sargent Schultz would say, “Very Interesting.”

The second article was from a website that I check frequently entitled “A Month Without Sunspots” I’m confident that the two article are related.

I still don’t believe in Global Warming a.k.a. Climate Change and I feel these articles reinforce my belief that the Sun, not human activity, is having the largest impact on whether our environment is warming or not. But don’t believe me, I don’t have a college degree in meteorology, my annual income is not dependent on government grants for research, nor am I a Marxist/socialist trying to control other people’s happiness. I’m just curious.